Happy New Year to all of you, and to your four-legged friends, from The Pooch Mobile!

Well, 2020 certainly was an unusual and sometimes stressful year, wasn’t it? But if you’re like us, you leaned on the company and the companionship of your best friend to get you through some “ruff” times. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist!)

But seriously, it’s well-documented that dog adoptions soared during the pandemic. There are many reasons for this, including children constantly at home, cancelled activities and limited travel. And, frankly, we can all use another friendly, happy face in our lives.

Those who have decided to adopt and have finally chosen their pet quickly face an important task: training your pooch.

Effective training and proper behavior is paramount for you and your pooch to have a happy, loving relationship. But be prepared for some of the most common behavior issues dog owners face!

Digging

It is believed that dogs became domesticated 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. And back then, they had to dig a lot for food, shelter and the like. So it’s impossible to simply turn off this instinct after all this time! But digging is not good for your yard, nor for your ankle when you sprain it while stepping in a hole.

When you catch them in the act say, “no.” But don’t bother scolding your pooch after the fact. You need to be consistent when they are digging, not afterward. Here’s a tip: Provide a sandbox where they can dig away. Bury some favorite toys and watch them have fun getting them out. And make sure you say, “Good Girl!” or “Good Boy!” – it will help them learn that it’s perfectly fine to dig all day in that spot.

Begging

We get it. It’s those eyes, imploring you for a bite. You just can’t resist. But you must. People food is not proper dog food, and many things that we eat are not healthy for your pup. Plus, Fido may “latch on” to a dinner guest, making it awkward for everyone, especially after you have to scold your dog in front of company!

One simple but fool-proof way to prevent begging? No food to your dog from the table. No exceptions. Then they will never learn how to beg. While you eat, don’t worry about taking the pup out of the room or putting him in his crate. He’ll be just fine.

Chewing

“Oh, no! Not my Louis Vuitton shoes!” “Stop! Get away from the new coffee table!” Many of us have been there, and it’s the stuff of nightmares, no?

Not only is chewing bad for your stuff, it’s potentially dangerous for your pup. If you see this habit, it must be broken immediately. Buy plenty of chew toys and encourage your dog when he’s chewing on the rubber bone.

If you catch them chewing on something they shouldn’t, yell out a hearty “No!,” replace the object with an approved toy, and praise them once they are chewing it.

Barking All The Time

Nothing creates tension between neighbors more than a dog that barks. All. The. Time.

Dogs bark for a variety of reasons: when they’re scared, lonely or frustrated. But yelling at your dog while he’s barking will not help, and may make the situation worse. If it’s frustration barking, obedience training can help solve this. Training will often teach your dog to sit before they do something fun (like the always-awesome morning walk!); this will help them control their impulses. Is your dog outside all day? If so, bringing them inside for a few hours a day may help. If the problem persists, you may need to seek out a trainer.

Biting

This is the big one, the behavioral issue that every dog-owner absolutely dreads. Biting causes more than embarrassment or a destroyed TV remote. The consequences of biting range from the disastrous to downright tragic. Socializing dogs early is the key. This teaches them to be relaxed around people and other dogs. Gradually expose them to different situations where they feel safe. Spend lots of time with them so they learn to trust people. Always watch for signs that your dog is uncomfortable, especially around children and food; then do what you can to make them feel better. Still concerned, after all of these efforts, that your dog is a biter? Then make immediate steps to see your vet or trainer for help.

If you’re faced with any of these issues, you’re not alone! And if you feel like you’re in over your head, there are plenty of highly-qualified trainers that can help your pup to settle down and behave the right way!

Did you know? January 24th is “Change A Pet’s Life Day”. On this day The Pooch Mobile encourages people to adopt pets from shelters and to help raise awareness about animals in need. There are also other ways in which you can enrich a pet’s life, including volunteering at a shelter, making a donation or temporarily sponsoring a dog. Anything you can do to improve the lives of pets is not only worthwhile, but you’ll feel better, too!